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Friday, November 11, 2016

Can He heal me?

The Gospel's account of the Savior's healing a woman with an issue of blood provides a powerful lesson for those dealing with issues of shame, doubt, or despair.  Taking some (major) scriptural liberties, I'd like to share a possible version of this account from the woman's perspective:


Jesus.  The 'Holy Man,' she thought.  Although it had only been a few weeks since He had begun to visit the nearby towns, the rumors about this godlike Man spread like hungry flames across a dry grassland.

Some said He was a revolutionary or a lunatic, others a wise teacher or even something more than human.  Her belief in the legends about His ability to cure, however, was the major force pulling her to the street she worked her way towards now.

He is a Healer.  For 12 years I have suffered...  Could He be the answer?  Once a well-functioning member of the community, she was now completely penniless, having spent over a decade on doctor after doctor...  She didn't know how it had actually come about, but the constant bleeding that had started those 12 years before had turned her life into a nightmare.

It wasn't so bad at first.  A "niddah" had to avoid contact with anyone for seven days every month during that part of a woman's cycle - the blood making her "unclean."  She assumed this bleeding was related to that and would soon stop so she could get back to her life.

But it didn't, and she hadn't.

The seemingly permanent status of "unclean" created a wedge between her and her friends.  One by one, they began to avoid her.  She was banned from attending synagogue.  Her husband writing a bill of divorcement and casting her out like a broken piece of furniture was the final crushing blow.  12 years.  I'm so tired.  Tired of being alone, hated, hopeless...

It was a long shot, and she knew it.  But something inside of her pushed her on to join with the massive crowd gathering.  She edged her way nearer the center of the street, luckily finding herself only a few people away from the open space that allowed the approaching small procession to pass.

That's Him.  I can feel it.  But there are so many people.  And Jairus is with Him.  Jairus was the synagogue ruler, with whom she had had no contact since that fateful day so many years ago.

Her heart dropped.  I shouldn't be here.  Even touching the people around her was making them unknowingly unclean.  She felt awful.  I should go, she thought. What was I thinking?  Every person in this multitude is more deserving of His power than I am.  And yet, something was making her stay.

She crouched as some of His disciples walked by.  Her heart pounded as she saw Him approaching.  You'll make Him unclean!  a voice shouted inside.  You'll ruin His ability to help others!  But... maybe if I just touch a bit of His clothing...  The recent legends talked about Jesus using only His hands or voice to enact the miracle in someone's life.  I don't deserve that.  I shouldn't even be here.

He was only a few steps away now, and she caught a glimpse of His face.  This is no ordinary man.  A rush of emotions flooded through her, the most powerful telling her the legends were true.  I believe.  I don't deserve it, but I believe even just touching a tassel of his robe will heal me.

She knelt and leaned forward between the rows of people crammed in front of her, reaching towards the approaching Man.  Everything in her head told her she was foolish to expect anything and would be punished someday for this.  Her heart, however, was convinced.  As her fingers closed the gap to the fringe of his robe, she remembered her teachings about the hem or border of a garment symbolizing that person's authority.  His authority has healed others.  It can heal me.

A final thrust of her arm put her off balance, her face beginning to fall to the hard cobblestone road below.  And then...  For a split second, her fingers grazed the robe.

Such power.  Immediately, she felt her wound closing and the bleeding stop.  She wondered in amazement, trying to pull herself back to her knees.  I'm clean!  Over a decade of suffering, and it's over!

The elation didn't last long.  The procession had stopped and the Man turned to the teeming throng.  "Who touched me?"  The question came quietly, with no rebuke.  Sudden guilt slapped her in the face and she started to shrink back into the crowd, thinking to run.  He knows.  I can't run from a God.

Trembling, she struggled to her feet and pushed through those ahead, falling down at the Man's feet.  "I... I touched your robe," she stammered.  "I heard of your power to heal and thought if I could just touch your robe, I could be rid of my 12-year plague."  She glanced up for a moment, "and it worked.  But I didn't mean... I'm sorry... I..."

You thought your life was hard with mortals spurning you.  You have now earned the spurning of a God...

"Daughter," He interrupted.  His voice was powerful and commanding now, yet somehow soft and soothing.  "Be of good comfort.  Thy faith hath made thee whole.  Go in peace."

She wept.  Tears flowed down her cheeks, eagerly splashing to the dusty street below.  She had never felt such love in the past 12 years, or even in her life.  Her eyes connected again with His.  Mortal with Divine.  Thank you! she exclaimed, though no words exited her lips.  The message was clear, however, and He responded with a look that enveloped her being.  You deserve it, child, she felt Him say.  You are mine just as these, and I love you.



References:  Matt. 9:18-22, Mark 5:22-34, Luke 8:41-48, 1 Sam. 24:4 (see footnote 4a)